Bolingbrook and Calumet City Show Contrast in How White Mayors Deal with Black Voters
With the April 4th, 2017 Suburban Municipal Elections upon us, I have been bombarded with questions about who to vote for. The suburban municipal elections are of interest and more importance to the Black community, particularly because Blacks are increasingly choosing the South and West Suburbs as safe havens, IF they choose to remain in Illinois. Recent reports that Chicago lost more population than any big city in the country only affirm, what most Black People know, We are leaving the city.
Combine that with the fact that the traditional Democratic alliance with Blacks is being skewed by an over-emphasis on the growing Latino population, which leave Blacks in the suburbs in a quandary. Support the existing governments or create a new paradigm? And while the Democratic Party would have Black People think the answer is simple, just vote D, in suburban elections the answer is more complex.
Take for example my hometown Bolingbrook, IL, located about 35 miles south of Chicago off of Route 55, where 31 year incumbent Mayor Roger Claar finds himself facing an unprecedented challenge from Will County Board Member Jackie Traynere. Once an unknown village that we called “Boringbrook” growing up, with a population of 40,000, it has grown to over 70,000 residents and a retail/restaurant mecca in the suburbs. A tremendous amount of that growth comes from Black Chicagoans seeking a better life for their families. Democrats, recognizing the tremendous number of Black voters with Democratic leanings hope to use their challenger, some mailers featuring Barack Obama, and the Black community’s propensity to vote to automatically vote Democratic to steal a victory from Claar.
Claar, a moderate Republican who has learned to use Bolingbrook’s diversity as an opportunity to build a strong community has done well by the Blacks who live there. You’re as likely to see Claar at Coop’s Den as you are a BHS Raider Basketball game. Through the years, Claar has managed to build an inclusive government, from Deputy Mayor Leroy Brown, Sr. to Village Trustee Sheldon Watts while creating a haven for Black businesses to succeed.
While Cook County Democrats hope to use a Claar fundraiser for Donald Trump as the reason to elect their candidate, Black Bolingbrook residents would be wise to remember that the same people supporting Claar’s opponent supported a water tax, a beer tax, and a bag tax, while Claar ended the vehicle sticker tax. The Bolingbrook First slate is recommended, because until they can get it together in Chicago, Cook County politicians need to stay home.
- Roger C. Claar- Mayor
- Carol S. Penning- Village Clerk
- Michael T. Lawler
- Sheldon L. Watts
- Maria A. Zarate
In contrast to the mayor’s race in Bolingbrook, Mayor Michelle Qualkinbush has taken to dividing people in an effort to defeat what would be the first Black Mayor of Calumet City. After former Black Alderman and State Representative Thaddeus Jones lost his bid to remain on the ballot, Qualkinbush, feeling confident chose to undermine the candidacy of Black City Clerk Nyota Figgs in the primary. After Figgs soundly defeated her opponent, she successfully convinced her challenger to withdraw from the general election, leaving her unopposed in the general election.
City Clerk Nyota Figgs may have decided to throw her support behind Qualkinbush challenger Larry Young, which could be the deciding factor in ejecting Qualkinbush, who draws most of her support from Calumet City workers who no longer reside in Calumet City. Figgs who was once seen as a potential mayoral candidate may have set her sights on a new target, vulnerable State Rep. Jones’ House seat.
Meanwhile, as the race has tightened, Qualkinbush has taken to mudslinging with obvious racial overtones. As Calumet City has become a majority Black city, it can no longer be led by a mayor that seeks to exploit Black racial stereotypes to destroy the character of her opponent. We recommend the following candidates in Calumet City.
- Larry Young- Mayor
- Nyota Figgs- City Clerk
- Rene Chandler- Treasurer
- Gina Young- 2nd Ward Alderman
- Anthony Smith- 7th Ward Alderman
Aurora- What many people don’t reaalize is that the City of Aurora has quietly become the 2nd largest city in Illinois, and after 11 years, former Mayor Tom Weisner abruptly stepped down after announcing a battle with cancer. Democrats were left in a precarious position after Madigan backed State Representative Linda Chapa Lavia finished third in in a five way primary, leaving Black war veteran, and 3 term city councilman Richard Irvin to face Rick Guzman in a runoff. As the mayor of the 2nd largest city in Illinois, Richard Irvin would increase Black influence and political power in Illinois. Richard Irvin is endorsed regardless of any party affiliation.
While there appear to be four candidates in the race to replace outgoing Mayor David Webb, only Perry Browley seems to have a chance to win. Browley’s opponents include a convicted felon who could not be sworn even if he won, and two write-in candidacies which are next to impossible campaigns to win.
For years Robbins has been mired in a mix of bad politics, disinvestment, and just bad luck. After years under Dr. Irene Brody, the citizens elected new leadership that seemed to continue their old ways. But even as things continued to get worse for Robbins, a group of young people, born and raised decided to take things into their own hands during the last election cycle, getting elected as trustees and to other positions, and making preparations to lead. Their time is now. In the Robbins election, we recommend the following candidates:
- David R. Dyson- Mayor
- Ila Davis- Clerk
- Darren Bryant- Trustee
- Gregory N. Jackson- Trustee
- Danny E. Johnson
- Bobby D. Murphy
If you live in Proviso Township, then you know how important the race for the Proviso School Board is, and the parents were concerned that the board members were more concerned about budget than the outcomes for the kids. Because of the large amount omoney at stake, we fully expect that all the local powers that be will be heavily involved in the race, giving the little guy a limited chance of winning, but their efforts should be commended. Every vote for Proviso Together sends a message to career politicians that the people want their government back. We recommend:
- Samuel Valtierrez
- Amanda Grant
- Arbdella “Della” Patterson
- Rodney Alexander
After a term limits battle that seems oddly similar to what happened in Calumet City, the incumbent Mayor was forced out of office, giving Broadview the opportunity to elect the first Black woman as it’s mayor. While there are two women in the race, we are recommending current Village Clerk Maxine Johnson as our pick for Mayor, because of her institutional knowledge. Our Broadview recommendations include:
- Debra Gillespie- Clerk
- Norlander Young- Trustee
- Sandra Taylor- Trustee
- Craig Flowers
As the competition for resource gets greater between the Black and Latino community, political tensions between the groups are increasing, even as calls for a Black Brown coalition grow more urgent in the Trump era. The “What’s in it for the Black People?” Voter’s Guide is really a look at who Black should consider voting for in their own best interests. Understanding that, if you are Black and reside in Hanover Park, please vote for Eira Corral Sepulveda for Village Clerk.
That’s it for this and remember, your vote is your choice, but if you need some help in deciding on a candidate and your only choice is Democrat or Republican, consider using this list if “What’s in it for the Black People?” is something that would help you make the decision.
(You can print this document and take it into the polling place with you!)
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